Wayne Rooney has come out and praised his former manager, Sir Alex Ferguson saying he will always be grateful for the faith shown in him by Ferguson when Rooney was signed from Everton ten years ago for £30m. Rooney in an interview on MUTV describes his former boss as an “incredible person and manager” who has had an important impact on his career.
The 28-year-old told MUTV: “He has been vitally important. I’m grateful to him for having the faith to bring me in from Everton.
“I think that he’s an incredible person and manager, the way you see his desire for the game. He certainly helped me a lot and helped us all.
“At the time, I was coming into the squad as a young lad and there were a few other young lads. He brought all that together and made us world club champions. I’m very grateful for everything that he’s done.”
Forgive me for being cynical here but let us rewind a few years back to October 2010 when the love between Rooney and Sir Alex started to fade. Rooney out of the blue spectacularly came out and said he wanted to leave Old Trafford saying ‘I met with (chief executive) David Gill last week and he did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad,’ I then told him that I would not be signing a new contract.’
It is understood that Rooney was seeking to double his £100,000 a week deal, but he insists that trophies – not cash – was behind his decision.
Rooney sighted United`s neighbours, City, spending cash on big name players and that United were not prepared to match City`s desire and therefore not his own.
Rooney went on to say in what appeared to be an ill advised statement
‘Despite recent difficulties, I know I will always owe Sir Alex Ferguson a huge debt. He is a great manager and mentor who has helped and supported me from the day he signed me from Everton when I was only 18.
‘For Manchester United’s sake I wish he could go on forever because he’s a one off and a genius.’
After the initial shock of Rooney appearing to want out of Old Trafford and putting on a charm offensive with Fergie, praising him but still wanting out, Rooney signed another improved contract with United only a few days later. Clearly this was the start of the breakdown in relations between Rooney and Ferguson. This willingness to leave the club and challenge the hierarchy at Old Trafford would be the start of the love/hate relationship between player and manager.
During his ten years at United, Rooney has won five premier league titles, one champions league title, playing in three finals, one Fifa world club title and two league cups. Individually, he has won young player of the year and player of the year awards and was voted fifth in the Ballon d`or award.
It has been a rocky road in the last ten years for Rooney, on and off the pitch. Sir Alex has bemoaned the players fitness levels on a number of occasions and had utilised Rooney in a number of different positions within the team, but throughout the on/off field issues like his marriage problems, his smoking, his foul mouthed rants in front of the cameras for England in the world cup and after scoring a hat trick for United at West Ham, Ferguson has stuck by his talisman.
Things came to what appeared breaking point in Ferguson`s last season when Rooney did not start against Real Madrid in the knockout stage of the champions league. This was around the time he was being asked to play deeper and sometimes out wide. When United won the premier league that season, Rooney clearly did not want to be at Old Trafford on the last home game of the season when United lifted the trophy. He sulked around the pitch when receiving his medal and did not take part in the celebrations like any of the other players.
So Rooney is still at Old Trafford, captain of the club now, one of the long established players, most probably going to be the clubs all time goalscorer, yet there is a strong feeling within the supporters that you either love him or hate him. Many do not like the fact he is still at the club and earning so much money after twice wanting out of the club, rumoured to want to join City the first time in 2010 and Chelsea the second time in 2013.
There is no doubting his talent, when he retires he will have won most domestic accolades there is to win. He is currently joint third in the premier league goal scoring charts, level with Thierry Henry. Yet there is always a feeling in people`s minds that he will jump ship at the first chance. How long before he wants to earn more money? How long before he has his nose pushed out by bigger more high profile players like Di Maria and Falcao? Will he clash with his current manager Louis Van Gaal, who is another strong character like Ferguson? Or maybe, just maybe, he has grown up and appreciates what he has at United and will stay around to become one of its all time legends.